Robert Pitman, co-founder of pop video channel MTV, is thought to be the leading bidder for Hard Rock Café through his investment vehicle, Pilot Group. Other contenders to buy the business, expected to fetch more than £500m, include British private equity groups Permira and TDR Capital, as well as US buyout firm Apollo. The deadline for the next round of bids in November 6 and competition is described as "very intense". Owners Rank Group announced last July that it was carrying out a strategic review of Hard Rock to find the best way of taking the operation to a "new phase of development". The sale will leave Maidenhead-based Rank as a standalone casino and bingo operator. The Sunday Times 29/10/06 (Business) page 3.1